Proper onion soup, with onions slowly cooked until caramelized and sticky, is a popular menu item in restaurants. It’s also a soup Pioneer Dad likes to simmer in the kitchen at home. The sweet smell of French onion soup, that fills the house, reminds me of Provence, France.
The most famous version is French onion soup gratinée, believed to have originated in France in the 18th century. Stock or broth is added to the , along with wine and flavorings, the soup simmered, and then bowls of the finished soup are topped with bread and cheese, then cooked under the broiler until golden.
Recipe adapted from Julia Child, “The Way to Cook”.
Prep Time: 15 min.
Cook Time: 2 hrs. 10 min.
Yield: 4 servings
1/2 stick butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
8 cups thinly sliced onions, about 2-1/2 pounds
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1 tablespoon flour
8 cups homemade beef stock, or good quality store bought stock
1 cup dry white wine like Chardonnay or Pinot Grigio
8 (1/2-inch) thick slices of French bread, toasted
3/4 pound coarsely grated Gruyere
Heat a heavy saucepan, or Dutch oven, over moderate heat with the butter and oil. After the butter has melted, stir in the onions, cover, and cook slowly until tender and translucent, this will take about 10 minutes. Blend in the salt and sugar, increase the heat to medium high, and let the onions brown and caramelize. Stir frequently until onions are a dark walnut color, 25 to 30 minutes. Don’t rush caramelizing the onions; this is what builds the flavor foundation of this soup.
Sprinkle the flour on the onions and cook slowly. Stir for another 3 to 4 minutes. Remove from heat, cool several minutes, then whisk in 2 cups of hot stock. When well blended, bring to the simmer, adding the rest of the stock and wine. Pioneer Dad likes Chardonnay for this soup. It seems the correct flavor to compliment the beef stock and onions.
Cover the saucepan loosely, and simmer slowly for 1-1/2 hours. Add a little water if the liquid reduces too much.
Taste for seasoning and re-balance if necessary.
Divide the soup among 4 ovenproof bowls. Arrange toast on top of soup and sprinkle generously with grated Gruyere cheese. Place bowls on a cookie sheet and set under a preheated broiler until cheese melts and forms a crust over the tops of the bowls.
Add ½ tsp. dried tarragon for another layer of flavor.
For a more complex onion taste, add two, halved and thinly sliced shallots to the onions when sautéing.
Either Dry Sherry or Port are both good optional choices for the wine.
Consider Stilton or Swiss cheese of Gruyere is not available.
For a vegetarian onion soup, use vegetable stock plus 1-Tbsp. tomato paste.